the Carmel

The Virgin of the Smile

The statue of the Virgin of the Smile of the Martin family is a copy of a gilded silver statue made for the Saint-Sulpice church in Paris by Edmé Bouchardon, Sculptor to the King, in 1734. The latter had been made from the parishioners' silverware, and nicknamed "Notre-Dame de Vieille-Vaisselle". She was venerated for fifty years in the chapel of the Virgin that Mr. Olier had built and where Louis Marie-Grignion de Montfort celebrated his first mass.

In 1735, the statue was reproduced on canvas by the painter Chevallier, then on a print by the engraver Dominique Sornique in 1744.

Disappeared during the French Revolution, the statue of Bouchardon was replaced in 1832 by a new silver metal statue made by the goldsmith Choiselat from the print, in more modest proportions. This statue served as a model for the Miraculous Medal.

The Virgin of the Smile of the Martin family is a cast inspired by this statue, to which have been added a terrestrial globe and a snake. It was offered to Louis Martin when he was set up as a watchmaker by Félicité Beaudouin, a resident of Alençon, and was placed in the Pavilion, his place of meditation and leisure.

After his marriage to Zélie in 1858, the statue was at the heart of the house, and the family prayed daily at its feet. In May, month of Mary, the statue is surrounded by honours, installed in the center of a veritable oratory in Mary's room. Zélie, having received many graces by praying in front of this statue, was very attached to it.

At Les Buissonnets, the statue is placed on a chest of drawers in the bedroom of Marie and Pauline, the room in which Thérèse will be bedridden during her illness at the age of 10, and where the miracle of the smile of the Virgin takes place on May 13, 1883 .


When Céline entered the Carmel in September 1894, she took the statue with her. In January 1895, she was placed in the antechamber of Thérèse's cell. It is, kneeling in front of this statue, that Thérèse and Céline pronounce the Act of Offering to Merciful Love on June 11, 1895.

Finally, when Thérèse went down to the infirmary on July 8, 1897, the statue was placed opposite her bed.

It is now in the chapel of Carmel, above the shrine of Saint Thérèse.